Longest river in France with over 600 miles, almost 200 miles are now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its lush valley landscape is studded with France’s greatest chateaux, including world famous Chambord and Chenonceau. Other ones like Blois, Azay or Amboise are well-worth seeing for their spectacular architecture as well as their rich history.
You will discover medieval jewels in the Anjou region, cradle of the Plantagenet dynasty (Angers, le Mans, Fontevraud). During the Hundred-Years war, French King Charles VII escaped to the royal Loire chateaux (Chinon) and received the help of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans against the English King of France Henry VI.
Renaissance times brought new architecture and numerous chateaux here and Leonardo da Vinci was French King Francis I’s guest at Amboise. Delightful diversity will be found between charming gardens (Villandry, Chenonceau) and lively cities (Tours, Le Mans).
Spiritual experiences in magical cathedrals (Chartres, Le Mans) can be alternated with other pleasures of local delicacies combined with Loire’s reputed delicious wines (Vouvray, Saumur, Champigny, Bourgueil, Pouilly Fumé, Sancerre).
The Italian Renaissance of the 16th Century influenced the architecture of the Royal house of France.
This was quickly seen in the Loire Valley as aristocrats started to build numerous castles and fortified country houses in this green and lush valley.
Most of these majestic buildings have survived to this day and can be seen by visitors to the region where the graceful architecture and beautiful tended gardens are on show, examples are the Chateaux of Chenonceau, Chambord and Villandry.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a guest of the French King for four years in the Clos Luce in Amboise.
A visit to the historic town of Angers, with its black and white ramparts will take any visitor back to the 12th Century during which period this town moved to the forefront of the European scene.
Indeed, the Count of Anjou, Henry II Plantagenet, born in LeMans, succeeded to the throne of England following his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although born in Le Mans, Henry was buried in the Abbey of Fontevraud with his wife and son, Richard the Lionheart.
In the 13th Century, a new cathedral was consecrated in the town of Chartres and shows exceptional workmanship in its stained-glass windows, ornate religious statues and its labyrinth.
It was at the Chateau of Chinon that a young Joan of Arc met Charles VII before she helped him to succeed to the throne of France. The capital city of Tours is considered to have the purest French accent spoken and therefore its Universities accommodate many foreign students.